Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 2.3 “The Roommate” and 2.4 “Jamal Got His Gun”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Thursdays, I will be reviewing City Guys, which ran on NBC from 1997 to 2001.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

Season two of City Guys continues as Chris gets a roommate and Jamal gets a gun!

Roll with the city guys….

Episode 2.3 “The Roommate”

(Directed by Frank Bonner, originally aired on September 26th, 1998)

After getting into a fight with his mother, El-Train leaves his house and ends up staying with Chris at the latter’s Park Avenue Penthouse.  It’s just as dumb as it sounds.  El-Train turns out to be a well-intentioned but terrible roommate but at least we get to see Chris’s penthouse once again.  Chris’s parents are nowhere to be seen but the butler and the maid make return appearances.

In between trying to get El-Train to move back in with his mom, Chris and Jamal work on a report about the history of New York City.  Jamal says that it should be an easy report for them because, “We’re city guys!”  The audience cheers and you can practically hear the little voices saying, “Oh my God!  That’s the title of the show!”

In yet another subplot, Al convinces Dawn and Cassidy to pose for some pictures that he wants to sell to a magazine.  In past episodes, there’s no way that Dawn and Cassidy would have allowed Al to photograph them but, for the purposes this episode, it was convenient to make them less sensible.  (Of course, as another example of City Guys struggle to maintain continuity, this episode also overlooks the fact that Cassidy already is a model.)  For some reason, a newspaper buys the photographs and puts Dawn and Cassidy’s heads onto the bodies of pregnant women.  The audience loves it but Dawn and Cassidy are less amused.

Anyway, this was a fairly silly episode but Steven Daniel’s performance as El-Train continued to be one of the show’s highlights.  As the episode ends, El-Train stands at the front of a classroom and prepares to give his report on the history of “Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love! …. starring Tom Hanks….”

Episode 2.4 “Jamal Got His Gun”

(Directed by Frank Bonner, originally aired on October 3rd, 1998)

After getting robbed and having a gun pointed at his face while closing up the diner, Jamal illegally purchases a gun and then accidentally shoots his father!

Damn!  City Guys got dark!

Of course, this being City Guys, there’s a silly subplot to balance out all of the dramatic stuff.  Cassidy ends up being pursued by a wealthy exchange student from a fictional Middle Eastern country.  Cassidy worries that she’ll be taken to the desert and she’ll have to deal with getting dry skin.  Once again, City Guys was all about tolerance, unless you were from a country other than the U.S.

But back to the gun plot, I have to give a lot of credit to Wesley Jonathan and, returning in the role of Jamal’s father, Ivory Ocean.  Both of them give strong performances in this episode and the scene where Jamal freaks out after realizing that he nearly killed his father is far more powerful than anyone would expect from a show that aired alongside Hang Time and Saved By The Bell: The New Class.  Fortunately, the bullet only grazes Jamal’s father and Jamal just gets probation.  I guess he can add the additional community service hours to however many hours he had left for the whole Fake ID thing.  Between community service, working at the restaurant, and running the school radio station, does Jamal have any free time?  Poor guy.

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